This week, United States Custom Agents announced they have seized more than 50 shipments of counterfeit Tamiflu. That's the antiviral drug that many people are stockpiling in case of a bird flu pandemic. The fake drugs were sent from Asia to people who had placed orders over the Internet. As it turns out, it may not matter anyway from a health standpoint, because there are already signs that the real drug may not be able to fight off every case of the illness after all,and ironically, it's sort of a sad payback for those who jumped the gun and used it prematurely.
"With any antiviral there is a concern we overuse it as with any antimicrobial drug that we will develop resistance strains," says David Webser M.D. and a public health epidemiologist.
One of the first cases of Tamiflu resistant bird flu was reported earlier this year in a patient in Vietnam, and now a report in the New England Journal of Medicine outlines two more cases of Tamil resistant bird flu there, both patients died despite getting that drug early and taking the right doses. Public health officials say this news reinforces their warning about the dangers of public stockpiling and the need for a better strategy in fighting the bird flu.